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5 Companies That Had A Rough Week

For the week ending Jan. 11, CRN looks at IT companies that were unfortunate, unsuccessful or just didn't make good decisions.

The Week Ending Jan. 11

Topping this week's roundup of those having a rough week is AT&T and its employees, some of whom face layoffs in coming months.

Also making the list this week are a number of PC manufacturers who, facing CPU shortages and economic uncertainties, saw their PC shipments decline in the fourth quarter. Open-source database developer MongoDB made the list thanks to new competition from Amazon Web Services, as did Huawei after a company executive was arrested in Poland for alleged espionage. And Cisco had to scramble to fix a critical bug in its email security appliance.

Not everyone in the IT industry was having a rough go of it this week. For a rundown of companies that made smart decisions, executed savvy strategic moves – or just had good luck – check out this week's Five Companies That Came To Win roundup.

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AT&T Employees Worry As Layoffs Loom On The Horizon

AT&T confirmed this week that it is preparing for a round of employee layoffs that are expected to begin later this month and take place over several months across multiple organizations within the company.

The company insisted that the layoffs would affect only a "very small" portion of its total workforce and are necessary to lower costs and improve company agility.

Word of the layoffs comes one year after AT&T pledged that the benefits the carrier received from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would lead to $1 billion in company investment and 7,000 new jobs. AT&T said that, in fact, it has hired 20,000 new employees in 2018 and more than 17,000 in 2017.

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PC Market, Some PC Vendors See Worldwide Sales Declines In Q4

The fourth quarter of 2018 was tough for some PC manufacturers with worldwide PC market unit sales down 4.3 percent in the quarter, according to numbers released this week by market researcher Gartner. PC vendors shipped 68.6 million PCs in the quarter compared to 71.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2017.

While the PC market has been rebounding in recent years, PC makers were hit by a double whammy in Q4: A shortage of CPU chips that created supply chain issues and made it difficult for manufacturers to meet demand; and what Gartner called "political and economic uncertainties in some countries" that "dampened PC demand."

HP Inc.'s worldwide PC shipments declined 4.4 percent year over year, while Apple's declined 3.8 percent and ASUS' plunged 10.7 percent. Bucking the trend was Lenovo, whose shipments grew 5.9 percent in Q4, and Dell Technologies, which eked out a 1.4 percent increase.

The story wasn't any better in the U.S. PC market where HP's unit shipments slid 7.6 percent in the fourth quarter and Microsoft's unit shipments tumbled 12.9 percent.

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MongoDB Finds Itself In Amazon's Competitive Crosshairs

Open-source database developer MongoDB this week found itself in the unenviable position of suddenly becoming a head-to-head competitor with Amazon Web Services.

AWS launched a new cloud-based, document-oriented database service based on a NoSQL database called Amazon DocumentDB that helps businesses manage documents and other semi-structured data. DocumentDB is compatible with the MongoDB open-source database technology.

Amazon DocumentDB is clearly aimed at the popular MongoDB and its products. MongoDB's stock plunged nearly 18 percent from $86.62 per share at the end of the day Wednesday to $73.65 Thursday afternoon before rebounding to around $75.

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Huawei Sales Exec Charged With Espionage In Poland

Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies is dealing with another case of an executive facing charges in another country. This week Weijing W., also known as Stanislaw Wang, was arrested by Poland's Internal Security Agency and charged with espionage.

Wang, a Chinese national, was taken into custody along with a Polish citizen who works for Polish telecom company Orange Polska. The Polish government said it had evidence that the two "cooperated with Chinese services" to spy on Poland.

The arrests come just weeks after Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada at the behest of the U.S. She faces charges that she misled financial institutions about the connection between Huawei and unofficial subsidiary Skycom, which allegedly did business with Iran in violation of U.S. trade sanctions.

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Cisco Scrambles To Fix Critical Vulnerability In Email Security Appliance

Developers at Cisco hustled this week to issue a fix for a critical flaw that could be exploited by an attacker sending a single email and triggering a denial of service on impacted devices.

The vulnerability is in the Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions decryption and verification or S/MIME public key harvesting features of Cisco AsyncOS software for the Cisco Email Security Appliance.

The flaw could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to cause an affected device to corrupt system memory, according to a Cisco security advisory. That could cause the system to repeatedly crash and restart, leading to a permanent denial of service condition, the Cisco warning said.

The patch was one of 18 fixes issued by Cisco this week. In addition to the critical vulnerability, another bug fix for the AsyncOS, this one in the software's email message-filtering feature, was deemed "high-severity."

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